February 17th, 2009

  • thaen

which home brew is ready to drink the fastest?

Originally published at GeekBeer. Please leave any comments there.

Thought this would be a fun little exercise. I’m going to keep tabs on what search terms are listed in the Apache logs and try to fill in the gaps when I see something that people are coming here for that isn’t actually here.

A couple days ago, the Apache log shows the search query that is now the title of this post. I’d like to go over my answer and why I think it’s correct.

I think the fastest brew from ingredients to stomach is an American Hefeweizen.

This guess is based on the following bits of knowledge:

  1. Hefs mature extremely quickly in the primary. During my tour of Redhook, which also brews Widmer Hefeweizen, Bob said that the batches of Widmer went from primary to secondary after just 3 days. I believe this is because the yeast are suspended in the liquid, rather than highly flocculent, but I’m having trouble finding references that confirm it. Most of the recipes that I can find, including the generic American Weizen from “How to Brew”, do call for shorter fermentations for Hefs than for other styles.
  2. Hefs require much less time in their fermentation devices for a homebrewer because here is no concern about clarity — the yeast don’t flocculate much, and the style calls for suspended yeast, so there is little reason for a Hef to spend 2 weeks in a secondary fermentation vessel. Again, the “How to Brew” recipe doesn’t even call for a secondary fermentation for this style.
  3. The suspended yeast contents of Hefeweizen means that the style will bottle condition very quickly, probably in less than a week.
  4. The lack of hop character means this beer doesn’t have to spend a lot of time mellowing in the bottle. Fast carbonation and lack of need to mellow means that time spent in the bottle prior to drinking is minimal.
  5. American Hefs in particular have the advantage that they don’t need the long cold-conditioning periods that are recommended for European styles (Daniels, “Designing Great Beers, p348, citing Warner’s “German Wheat Beer”). American Hefs also consistently use ale yeasts, which don’t typically need long diacetyl rests either.
Overall, this means that for homebrewers, American Hefs made with light hopping and ale yeast spend very little in fermentation vessels, and are ready to bottle and drink faster than other varieties of beer.